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The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones

by Alice Sebold

The Lovely Bones Chapter 1 Summary

How It All Goes Down

  • Meet our narrator, Susie "like the fish" Salmon (1.1). She's been dead since December 16, 1973. She was fourteen years old when she was murdered by her neighbor, Mr. Harvey.
  • Here's what happened:
  • It's snowing and Susie takes a shortcut, through the cornfield, to get home after school. She gets a little scared when she comes upon Mr. Harvey there in the dark.
  • He makes small talk with her, and she says she has to go home.
  • But then Mr. Harvey says he wants to show her this really cool "hiding place" (1.24) he built underground. It has a wooden hatch, covered with dirt. The hatch keeps it from caving in.
  • Susie is a really curious girl, very interested in science and engineering.
  • She feels the excitement of a young child making a new discovery. She's never been in any real danger, and she doesn't know enough to be afraid.
  • So, she goes into the underground room with Mr. Harvey, marveling that he has dug out all that dirt. He's even dug shelves. A little battery operated lamp sheds light on the amazing structure.
  • She thinks Harvey's weird, but like her dad said, he's "just a character" (1.42).
  • Susie wants to know everything about the dirt room – how he built it, how he learned to build it.
  • But Susie's "in transit" (1.44) between Earth and her heaven when Harvey takes it apart after her murder. She doesn't see him collapse the hole and put her body in a bag.
  • She's in heaven now, and she can watch Earth.
  • The hole is all closed up three days later, when the neighbor's dog finds her elbow with a little piece of cornhusk on it,.
  • But back to the story of her murder:
  • Next Harvey pressures Susie stay and have a coke, and starts asking her personal questions, like: Does she have a boyfriend? Is she a virgin?
  • Now Susie is scared and tries to leave but Mr. Harvey tells her she isn't going anywhere.
  • She fights as best she can, not having any knowledge of self defense, but loses.
  • When he's kissing her, she thinks of her first and only other kiss, with Ray, a boy she has a crush on.
  • She begs him not to, but Harvey brutally rapes her, stuffing the jingly pompom of her hat into her mouth when she screams.
  • After, he shows her a knife and asks her if she loves him. She says yes, but he still kills her.

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